As we mark Heritage Month in Jamaica, a resurgence of Jamaica’s indigenous Taino population is painting a vibrant view of our nation’s diverse heritage. Far from extinct, the Taino presence is felt in the traditions, practices, and faces of contemporary Jamaica, especially in the parishes of St Elizabeth and Manchester. Figures like Chief of the Jamaican Humming Bird Taino People Kasike Nibonrix Kaiman and Dr. Erica Neeganagwedgin are proud descendants and proof that the Taino flame still burns bright.
A Living Tapestry of Culture
The narrative of the Tainos thrives in the bustling life of fishing villages, where traditions, art, and language, are carefully preserved and celebrated. In communities like Southfield, Blunthers, and Bull Savanna, the Tainos are not just a tale told but a living experience. Their bloodline being reclaimed and celebrated by individuals like Kasike Nibonrix Kaiman and his tribe The Humming Bird Taino Tribe of Jamaica.
From Surviving to Thriving
The Humming Bird Taino Tribe of Jamaica also known as the Yukayeke Yamaye Guani, act as a bridge between the ancient and contemporary. With Kasike ‘Kalaan’ Nibonrix Kaiman as their chief, they aim to carve paths of sustainability and cultural revitalization for their country and bloodline. In a world grappling with environmental challenges, Kaiman amplifies the indigenous voice, offering nature-based solutions. Beyond the Tainos of the Humming Bird Tribe, many other Tainos have blended into the broader Jamaican populace, holding their grounds in places like the Canoe Valley and Woodside, where traces of their culture and traditions linger.
You Could Be Taino
On that note, according to the accounts of Dr. Neeganagwedgin an Associate Professor at the Ohio Western University’s Faculty of Education, it is quite possible that persons from these areas who have long considered themselves to have just been mixed raced East Indians or ‘Maroon Coolie’ are actually of Native Indian descent. As per the experience of her mother Olive Moxam-Dennis, even with knowledge of their Taino descent, many have shied away from their heritage for fear of being ridiculed. A direct result of this was the fading of traditions and stories and the lost of generational truths. If you have your suspicions of being a Taino, you can check your family history through sites like GEDMATCH.COM. Also, you could consider a DNA test from a specialized service. Utilize test results to trace your ancestral roots and explore potential connections to the Taino people. Perhaps you could also cross-reference this data with your family’s oral histories and traditions for a comprehensive view of your lineage.
The Tainos of today aren’t a chapter of the past; they are active participants, contributors, and shapers of Jamaica’s contemporary cultural future. This makes the question not”where are the Tainos now?” but rather “how are we engaging with, learning from, and contributing to the continuing narrative of the Taino heritage?” Each practice, ceremony, and traditional element upheld by the Jamaican Hummingbird Tainos is not just a window to the past but a pathway illuminating the richness of a living, breathing cultural legacy.
Photos – Carib Cement gallery from the opening of the Woodside Community Ancestral Garden.